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European IT channel ends 2020 with record sales

Contexts predicts that it could get close to its first €100 billion revenue year in 2021

The European IT channel marked the end of 2020 with a record €26.3 billion in distribution sales and year-on-year growth of 10.2% for Q4, the latest data from IT market intelligence firm Context has revealed.

According to the research, full-year sales hit €83.3 billion and growth stood at 7.2%, compared to €77.8 billion and 3.6% growth in 2019.

The totals continued the overall trend for 2020 – a year which saw the channel exceed expectations during every quarter, despite supply chain shortages and widespread office closures due to the pandemic. 

"The IT channel in Europe has ended 2020 by once again outperforming expectations — we have not seen double-digit growth in a quarter in recent years,” commented Adam Simon, global managing director at Context. 

The push for digital transformation and the increased demand from home workers and students propelled most countries to strong growth, Context said, despite a fall in demand in many IT categories.

The strongest growth was found in Poland (30%), followed by the Czech Republic (15%), Spain (13%) and Italy (11%). Only France (-2%), Austria (-5%) and Slovakia (-7%) saw negative growth.

Mobile PCs were a key driver, with notebook volumes increasing by 37% year-on-year and revenue growing to 31%, the data revealed. There was also strong  demand from the education and healthcare sectors for tablets and laptops, while the consumer space saw a boost for both traditional and gaming laptops.

Small and medium resellers (SMRs) continued to dominate the channel in 2020 with a 36% market share. 

Corporate resellers lost 2% of their share over the period, accounting for 26.4% of the market in 2020, Context also found, while retail chain players saw their share increase by almost one percentage point to 23.3%.

Etail business outlets continued to hang around the 3% mark - while the etail consumer channel increased its share by 1.6%, growing to 10.7%.

Looking forward to 2021, Context predicts the European IT channel could get close to its first  €100 billion revenue year.

"With the current level of demand for digital products, there’s more to come in 2021. We expect growth to restart in the early part of January,” Simon continued. 

“Rather than start the year with an empty pipeline after the strong finish to 2020, we’ll see the opposite. There’s still huge demand that can’t be satisfied due in part to supply shortages and this will continue to drive channel sales growth.”

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